It is always enjoyable to view this video excerpt of Chapman To’s show. I shall, however, make things clear that I have no feeling for big houses and I do not know what the purpose is to live in a very spacious house. But I am writing this blog article to explore feasibility in real life: practically speaking, everybody is able to live in a 6,000 square feet house in Ipoh, the capital of Perak State in Malaysia.
Recalling 2020 when Malaysia saw the outbreak of the pandemic, the economy almost halted when the then prime minister Muhyiddin, just two weeks in office, announced a nationwide lockdown. Inevitably, the real estate market was also hard hit. It was during that time I searched online and saw a big house in Ipoh town area looking to be leased for RM500. In Cantonese language, this was a ‘jump-from-the-building price level’. The size I wasn’t very sure but I was certain it was more than 1,000 sqf. Should someone act quick and sign the lease agreement for two years with a monthly rate of RM500, that would have been a very good deal.
About seven to eight years ago, I viewed some properties in Ipoh and came across a three-storey house with lift asking for about RM650,000. According to the exchange rate back then, it was equivalent to NT$5,000,000—basically it was, and it still is, very difficult to buy a flat in Greater Taipei, namely Taipei City and New Taipei City.
18 months since the pandemic rocked the world, a random search on the internet would find you a 6,000 to 8,000 sqf Ipoh house with a monthly rate of 3,000 to 4,000MYR. If you stay with your friends, several housemates paying RM1,000 each and you would be able to live in the house.
If yours is a start-up that needs five to six staff members to work around the clock, get the accountant to approve to lease the house. That way, your company saves the trouble of renting office and non-local colleagues have a place to stay.
Theoretically speaking, everybody could afford a big house in Ipoh at this rate. But the problem is whether you need such a spacious house. When the Ipoh property market offers more choices and when people are able to lead a comfortable lifestyle in a 1,000 to 2,000 sqf house, many might want to shun 3,000 to 5,000 sqf houses. The reason is more than obvious: cleaning would be a nightmare, and you wouldn’t know how many helpers you need to hire to maintain cleanliness at home in the long run.
It is always good to know about this, though. We know this is feasible but this doesn’t mean we must live in a big house. Instead, I know this is absolutely affordable if an idea of living in a spacious house comes across my mind.
This is very different in Hong Kong: since a very young age you knew that was impossible, because the selling price or lease rate was forever an out-of-touch price tag in Hong Kong. And you are quite likely to envy those who live in bigger houses.
It is also possible, however, that when we have choices from 1,000 to 6,000 or 8,000 sqf, we are quite likely to choose a smaller one? When we have an abundance of choices we would think differently from the struggle to look for a way out when there was virtually no way out at all.
Of course, if I were an Hongkonger who could only afford a 400 sqf flat no matter how hard I work throughout my own life, it would certainly be very interesting to live in a 6,000 sqf house in Ipoh, even for only several years.